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Art Historical Inside Jokes

Tweet Greetings from Italia! My first two weeks here have been full of pasta, sunshine, and adjusting to countryside-Italian living. In addition to visiting an olive oil mill, adventuring into the nearby town of Orvieto and seeing its beautiful duomo, or … Read More

Greetings from Italia! My first two weeks here have been full of pasta, sunshine, and adjusting to countryside-Italian living. In addition to visiting an olive oil mill, adventuring into the nearby town of Orvieto and seeing its beautiful duomo, or cathedral (more on that later), and sampling the local pizza, I've been thoroughly ensconced in art historical education. One of my professors here in Amelia (see my last post) is an expert in early seventeenth-century Italian art, and so naturally, he began our first class by talking about Caravaggio. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is perhaps one of the most important and influential figures in the history of western art. He was also, incidentally, a total rebel. He was quick to anger, and was at one point arrested for killing a man over a disputed tennis match. The drama in his personal life directly translated into his art, as his command of drastic changes from light to dark (also known as chiaroscuro) make his scenes emotionally moving and incredibly engaging. He was also, unsurprisingly, incredibly full of himself, and deemed himself the most famous painter in Rome. He even went so far as to call himself "The Better Michelangelo," referring, of course, to his preeminent predecessor, Michelangelo Buonarroti, while simultaneously referencing his given name. His comparison of himself to Michelangelo, however, did not stop there. At the end of the sixteenth century, Caravaggio began his so-called Saint Matthew Cycle, which consisted of three paintings depicting the life of Saint Matthew for the San Luigi dei Francesi church in Rome. One of the first paintings he completed was The Calling of Saint Matthew, which depicts the moment at which Christ calls Matthew to be one of his disciples.
caravaggio calling saint matthew
[caption id="attachment_4043" align="aligncenter" width="528"] Caravaggio's Calling of Saint Matthew[/caption] Caravaggio intentionally inserted a sort of wink to his forebear in a small detail that often goes unnoticed. Namely, the hand of the figure in the upper-right hand register mirrors that of the hand of Adam in Michelangelo's masterpiece The Creation of Adam. [caption id="attachment_4044" align="aligncenter" width="475"] Detail of Caravaggio's Calling of Saint Matthew with detail of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam[/caption] By making this visual homage, Caravaggio asserts his own position within the art historical canon while also reinforcing the religious message of his painting. The implied cue to the viewer of the painting is that Caravaggio is as talented - and as important - as Michelangelo, which was a pretty grand statement to make at that time. It may seem like a silly coincidence, but Caravaggio never did anything unintentionally. And besides, it's these kinds of visual jokes and puns that keep art historians such as myself trudging along the hard road of academia.
Do people want to know how a BMW is made or do they just want it to go fast? What level of knowledge do you require regarding the items in your life, particularly the big purchases? Those things you’re going to live with for a while: your car, your flat screen TV, your kitchen counter top.  At Gallery Direct, we know that artwork would also fall into that category.  It’s a purchase you think about, something you’re going to live with for a while, for some people years, many years.  For the art lovers who know us, they know we’re the guys who let you make the big purchases without breaking the bank, a pleasant oxymoron. We’ve wondered, if more people want to know how the artwork is made or if they just shop on price. We don’t know that it can be both. The price is obvious, so we created this video that shows the step of the process, right after the original is created and checked into our facility. Our specialty is limited edition artwork. This means an original work, created by one of our artists was meticulous curated and reproduced.  The Cruse Scanner is a fascinating part of the story of how an original work of art makes its way to your wall as a limited edition.

Ciao Gallery Direct!

Tweet Greetings from Italy! It’s been a while since I posted to Off the Wall, but in my defense, I have been in transit. I am pleased to announce that I am officially Gallery Direct’s first Foreign Correspondant! After finishing … Read More

Greetings from Italy! It's been a while since I posted to Off the Wall, but in my defense, I have been in transit. I am pleased to announce that I am officially Gallery Direct's first Foreign Correspondant! After finishing my internship in the merchandising and marketing department, I said goodbye to beautiful Austin for a summer of postgraduate education, traveling, and, of course, lots of art. I am honored to be taking part in the Postgraduate Certificate Program of ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art. As you may recall from my previous posts about the Isabella Stewart Gardner theft and the destruction of two Klimt paintings during World War II, I have a special interest in art crime and cultural heritage protection. This ten-week intensive program will allow me to explore these kinds of topics in-depth in both a practical and academic setting. Oh, did I mention that this all takes place in a small, hillside town in Umbria?
amelia umbria italy
[caption id="attachment_4021" align="aligncenter" width="528"]amelia umbria italy View of the Umbrian city of Amelia, Italy.[/caption] My first week of classes consisted of a crash-course in the contemporary art market. Learning about the inner-workings of the gallery world, the auction houses, the role of the dealer and the collector, as well as the new, speculative market that has recently taken shape, I got to thinking about how Gallery Direct is very much on the cutting edge of the market. With the growth of technology, art is disseminating more quickly than ever before, as even large auction houses like Christie's conduct some sales either partially or entirely online. It's almost too obvious to say that the online marketplace allows more and more people to participate in the art market than ever before. But what distinguishes Gallery Direct from those traditional institutions that are adapting to the digital space is that our model allows us to price our artwork at a level that is accessible to everyone. Being in the art world is consistently governed by who has the most change to spare, and as prices at the auction house flock toward the billions of dollars, it's so encouraging to see, as a young student, that there are alternatives to these unimaginable sums. Working at Gallery Direct was great exposure to the potentials of the future of the art world, and I am so glad to continue that exploration from abroad. This summer will be filled with adventure, education, and loads of great art. I'll be sure to keep you updated on all of the above.

Study: Men + Art = Happiness

Tweet In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I would share some insight into men: Art makes them happy! Norwegian Men are known for seeking happiness in life, they even build research teams tasked to discover how they can be more … Read More

In honor of Father's Day, I thought I would share some insight into men: Art makes them happy!

Norwegian Men are known for seeking happiness in life, they even build research teams tasked to discover how they can be more satisfied in life!

In a recent study conducted by these happiness seekers,  it was determined that men that enjoy cultural activities are better off in mind and body than their uncultured counterparts.  The study followed on over 50,000 men and women to tracked their personal satisfaction, perceived state of health, anxiety and depression. Overall, both men and women who participated in cultural activities—including enjoying fine artwork, had lower levels of anxiety and depression, reported more life satisfaction, and generally “felt better” than those not participating in cultural activities. But the biggest beneficiaries were men. And here’s the strange part: men more interested in watching and looking at fine art images— at home, in museums and art galleries – enjoyed the greatest benefits of all; even more than men actively participating in cultural and creative activities. Lucky for you guys, Gallery Direct has a lot of images hand selected just for the guys!   Here are our top "Guy Art" picks: [caption id="attachment_1410" align="alignleft" width="153"] The Gunfighter by Benjamin Arnot[/caption] This image, The Gunfighter, is a favorite among the guys in the Gallery Direct office. Printed on aluminum and framed it was recently featured in our Gallery right out, Joseph Garcia's office.  This is a creation by Benjamin Arnot, he combines his painting with digital imagery, adding in a geometrical element.  Very manly, yet tasteful! [caption id="attachment_1414" align="alignright" width="255"] Urban Radio II by Sara Abbott[/caption] Graffiti images are very trendy right now and are a top pick among our male customers. Sara Abbott has several graffiti images, including the image to the right. These images look great on any substrate, I think the bigger the graffiti image, the cooler the effect. These next images are sexy, yet sophisticated. Appreciating the female form in a tasteful way can liven up any room, giving it a sexy contemporary look. Cherry Rain I & II by Sia Aryai           For more art for guys browse Gallery Direct's Art For Him Collection
I crave the feeling of new decor, I think I am actually addicted to it.  I love retail therapy for my home. Too often I find myself buying new pillows, pictures, dishes, vases, throw blankets, duvet covers, towels, and most recently a new scale.  That last purchase is when I knew I had a serious problem, I bought a scale because it looked cute in my bathroom, not because I intend to stand on it. I decided it was time to break this obsession with purchasing new items every several days and that I was going to love what I already have. I am on a "no home decor purchase" pact for the next 6 months!  I can still redecorate, but I have to get creative with what I already own.  Here's five tips to show you how I have been coping. Tip #1 Moving my artwork around!  This is my favorite tip, moving artwork from one room to another creates a whole new room and a fun decorating challenge.  First, I started in my bedroom.  I took these love birds by Judy Paul that were above my sofa in the living room and hung them above my bed.  I love how modern the bedroom looks! Tip #2 pile on your pillows.  I grabbed every pillow I had in my entire home and put them on my bed. I am so pleased with the results and it doesn't bother me that they are all a little different.  As I went through other parts of the house, I pulled pillows from the bed to decorate the other rooms and still have 8 left on the bed. Yes I even got carried away and threw a white boa left over from Halloween on the side of my bed to throw the symmetry off a bit. Next up was my living room. Tip #3 I rotated my floor rug by 90 degrees.  This was scary at first, but I stuck it out.  I moved the sofa away from the wall by 3 feet after reading that moving your furniture to the center of the room can make a room look bigger.  I am not sold on this idea yet, but it did give me plenty of wall space behide the sofa to place large pieces of artwork. Tip #4 I took several books piling up in my book shelf and made a side table! How brilliant is this? Tip #5 I took all the blankets I have and placed them on various pieces of furniture. The sofa, reading chairs, even the ottoman. Bonus Tip: #6 I had a small curtain with a black and white pattern laying around. It's actually part of my winter collection.  I placed it on the table in the breakfast nook making a table cloth!  I then filled a vase with some fresh fruit, mostly oranges for the splash of color and to give it a summer like feel. Have a revamp your home tip for us? Please share with me in the comment section below, as I still have 5 months of no spending to go!  Wish me luck.    

Selecting Art with a Point of View

Tweet Summer is the perfect time to update the art around the home. I like to change it up at least once a year, and access to a variety of imagery is one of the great perks of working for … Read More

Summer is the perfect time to update the art around the home. I like to change it up at least once a year, and access to a variety of imagery is one of the great perks of working for a fine art publisher. My project this summer was to update the art in my home office, and I knew that deciding what to display would be the hardest part. When selecting artwork it helps me to define a point of view. Sometimes it is as straight forward as choosing artwork that I personally find beautiful or interesting. Sometimes  it's the desire to showcase photos I took during a family vacation. Other times, the reasons go deeper. I recently lost my grandfather, who was 100 years old. That was a joyous occasion, not because he was a mean old man, but because he lived a full life worth celebrating. Shortly after, I also lost my 41-year-old cousin to breast cancer. She left behind 2 young children, a devastated husband and her widower father.  Somehow I wanted to give a face to the emotions and thoughts I couldn't necessarily express or fully understand. I wanted to reflect on these events and acknowledge that life just keeps marching forward. It was in this mind set that I choose these 3 works from our digital photos library. There is peaceful silence in each of these photos. Because of the fog and muted colors there is also uncertainty and melancholy. The images fit my emotional state, and I enjoy looking at them as a set. They pull me in and my mind can wander and think about what it will. The next step was to customize each image. Gallery Direct allows for a multiple customization options. This is both a blessing and a curse. The options are so varied that it can be overwhelming. I can customize the size, the material the images are printed on, and the frame. Deciding on the size is easy. The room and purpose dictates the size. Learn more about sizing an image here. I wanted the images to be large but my office at home office is small. I had a discussion with myself, measured the wall twice, and we decided that 26" x 26" (outer dimensions) would do the trick. Not too big for the room but big enough to see detail from my desk. Now I had to decide what to material to print on. Gallery Direct offers prints on canvasframed paperaluminumacrylicmirror and birchwood. The home office had a lot of natural light,  and I knew that I did not want a lot of reflections, so that meant aluminum and mirror were out. I also knew I wanted a frame so birchwood was out as well. I didn't like acrylic glass for these images. Prints on acrylic glass offer great clarity but there is a levity to the material that I felt was inappropriate for the subject matter. I was down to framed paper or canvas and eventually decided on framed paper because I wanted a matte around each image. White space around the image was important to me. It allowed the images to "breathe". I then choose a clean white frame to go along with my white walls. This was a pure aesthetic decision. Because of the relatively large size of the set (about 82" across) I felt a darker finish or a heavily ornamented frame would  take away from the subtle and quiet nature  of the images. Overall, I am very pleased with the finished results. It is in part a personal memorial to family members that have passed and a reminder that life moves quickly, but at the same time the selections reflect my taste and personality. -Jhonnie

Most Delish Design Eye Candy: Desire to Inspire

Tweet I’ve been on a mid-century modern kick in my search for design inspiration lately. There’s something about the strong shapes, clean lines and utilitarian flourishes that appeals to my brain. Granted, I have waaaaay too much stuff to ever … Read More

I've been on a mid-century modern kick in my search for design inspiration lately. There's something about the strong shapes, clean lines and utilitarian flourishes that appeals to my brain. Granted, I have waaaaay too much stuff to ever fully embrace the minimalism of true mid-century modern design, but a girl can dream. And, I know that even if I can never have a magazine-ready mid-century modern home from top to bottom, I can always incorporate pieces that fit the MCM aesthetic. For example: [caption id="attachment_3898" align="aligncenter" width="528"]Design Inspiration from Jaime Bush via Desire to Inspire [Jaime Bush (http://www.jamiebush.com) interior, via Desire to Inspire][/caption]Chair. Desk. I love you. Get in my living room now, please. More from Jaime Bush here.

Want More MCM Design Inspiration?

One of my favorite blogs for mid-century modern design inspiration is Desire to Inspire. Kim and Jo are an amazing pair of bloggers. Despite having never met (Kim is in Canada and Jo is in Australia!), they have put together a meticulously curated blog full of drool-worthy images. Desire to Inspire features a variety of eye candy: interiors by fabulous designers! Reader house tours! Interesting architectural projects! Jo and Kim give us all a glimpse of great design and architecture from around the world. And who can forget the weekly Pets on Furniture series? It features--what else--cute pets on great furniture. It's design inspiration for animal lovers!

From Inspiration to Reality...

Of course, many of the rooms featured on Desire to Inspire contain amazing art. Here are a couple of my favorites--along with Gallery Direct art to fit the bill if you happen to be inspired by what you see. What a yummy living room by Anonymous Architects: [caption id="attachment_3899" align="aligncenter" width="528"]Design Inspiration from Anonymous Architects via Desire to Inspire [Anonymous Architects (http://anonymousarchitects.com) via Desire to Inspire][/caption]Right? Get a similar geometric vibe with a piece like Geometric Conclusion III by Benjamin Arnot from Gallery Direct's collection: [caption id="attachment_3900" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Geometric Conclusion III by Benjamin Arnot [Geometric Conclusion III by Benjamin Arnot on framed paper][/caption]How about this dining room from Desire to Inspire reader Irving's apartment: [caption id="attachment_3901" align="aligncenter" width="528"]Irving's dining room via Desire to Inspire [Irving's dining room via Desire to Inspire][/caption]Mimic his monochromatic/eclectic gallery wall by mixing paintings like Shirley WilliamsShadow Play IV (brand new to our collection!)... [caption id="attachment_3902" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Shadow Play IV by Shirley Williams [Shadow Play IV by Shirley Williams on framed paper][/caption]...with other types of images--like a vintage map of your favorite city, like this map of New York from 1840: [caption id="attachment_3903" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Map of the City of New York (1840) by Calvin J. Smith [Map of the City of New York (1840) on framed canvas][/caption]And I could go on and on. Head over to Desire to Inspire to see for yourself! Where do you find design inspiration?  

Behind the scenes with Justin Garcia

Tweet Justin Garcia is just as dynamic as his paintings.  His signature style shines through his personality and all that he does.  He is truly as authentic as they come. A small team of us at Gallery Direct, spent a … Read More

Justin Garcia is just as dynamic as his paintings.  His signature style shines through his personality and all that he does.  He is truly as authentic as they come. A small team of us at Gallery Direct, spent a day with Justin in his Houston-based studio and captured everything on video so that you could get to know him as well.  His personality and inspiration makes me love his paintings even more. Justin wants people to connect with his artwork and question what they see, and why they see it.   His work incorporates mixed media of oils, acrylics and compound texture on canvas and wood, and for more exotic pieces, often features unique materials such as Plexiglas, railroad nails and stained glass. His art studio is just cool as you would imagine an accomplished artist's space to be, maybe even a little cooler, since there was a black cat roaming around with confidence. Justin met Gallery Direct's Art Director, Nick Nichols, several years ago and instantly fell into a synergistic partnership.  I won't spoil all the highlights, watch the video to learn more: Chromaticity is my favorite series by Justin Garcia. What is your favorite works of his? View his works here: Justin Garcia

What Your Mom’s Art Says About Her

Tweet With Mother’s Day only a few days away, you are probably thinking about the things your mom likes and hopefully, you have purchased her gift already.  Every mom has some type of art in their home. Have you ever … Read More

With Mother's Day only a few days away, you are probably thinking about the things your mom likes and hopefully, you have purchased her gift already.  Every mom has some type of art in their home. Have you ever thought about what your Mom's art says about her? Let's take a look:
Does your mom have a bright bold image in her kitchen or dining area like this one?  Moms that choose bold statement pieces of food love to cook and be social.  This mom is the one that is always over feeding her guests and still cooks you your favorite meal from when you were in high school. Does you mom display education material like maps or travel images as artwork?  She probably loves to learn new things and stay busy. She is the type of mom that loves to try new things, from learning a new language to underwater basket weaving, your mom is in the front row! Does your mother tastefully display adult beverage images as artwork?  Moms that display their passion for alcohol as art are outgoing and love to have a good time.  Your mom is the bell of the ball and loves to raise a glass to you being home. Does your mother go for the old masters with her decor?  Moms that love Van Gogh, and Klimt, are classic in their taste and a sucker for old memories.  This is the type of mother who insists that you try on her wedding dress. Does your mom's walls adorn landscape and floral artwork?  Moms that display timeless floral prints and scenic imagery are sweet as can be. They love all things that let people know they are a mom and most of all, they love you being in their home. They are the moms that will always remind you that you can come home anytime, no matter how old you are. http://www.gallerydirect.com/

Obama Visits Manor New Tech High School

Tweet President Barack Obama will visit Manor New Tech High School this Thursday as part of the president’s Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. The Manor New Tech High School opened in 2007 with intentions of preparing students to succeed … Read More

President Barack Obama will visit Manor New Tech High School this Thursday as part of the president's Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. The Manor New Tech High School opened in 2007 with intentions of preparing students to succeed in an information-based and technologically advanced society. This visit is very near and dear to our hearts at Gallery Direct, as we have been a business partner of Manor Schools for several years now.  Several of their hallways are adorned with artwork created by Gallery Direct. Manor's executive team asked us to donate artwork for the President's visit. We are honored to be able to be a small part in this huge initiative. [caption id="attachment_3823" align="alignleft" width="505"] Prints on Acrylic for President Obama's Visit to Manor High Tech High School[/caption] Here are the finished prints - they passed our quality control inspection and they are now ready to meet the President!